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June 16, 2003
Enter The Matrix - Review
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Everybody is kung Fu fighting...
Enter The Matrix. Possible the most highly anticipated movie to game tie-in in history. It has everything going for it. A strong developer in Shiny Entertainment, neat looking graphics and effects, release during the same month as the highly anticipated movie sequel, and most importantly input from the Wachowski brothers including video footage filmed at the same time as the movies, but exclusively for the game. With so much anticipation and hope with this game early previews weren't overly glowing - poor textures and gameplay/control issues were mentioned. But that was six months ago, and in video game development that can be a long time. Have things improved?

In Enter The Matrix, you take the role of either Niobe or Ghost, part of the same group of rebels as Morpheus, Trinity and Neo. Niobe is the Captain of the Logos, the fastest ship in the rebel fleet. Ghost is the ship’s weapons guru, and is a deep-thinking, philosophical assassin. The game features intense Matrix-style martial arts, wild shootouts, impossible stunts, insane driving, and a chance to pilot the fastest hovercraft in the fleet.

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Cool... running on walls.
As you can probably tell this game is a third person action game with much emphasis on hand to hand combat. This combat is not only intuitive for the most part but also very fun. I thought I would tire of running up a wall, jumping off and then kicking someone in the head - but not so. Some people may find this game repetitive after a while, as some of my friends did, but they all found it fun. Shiny have also included a Focus or "Bullet Time" styled slowdown which looks spectacular during the action sequences.

Enter The Matrix also features a unique “hacking system” that allows the player to seemingly hack into the game. Based around a DOS prompt interface this hacking allows you to unlock secrets, play movie clips from the game of get some hidden extras. It's not really overly complicated, but it will keep you occupied for a couple of hours and is a brilliant way to implement a bonus features/cheat type system in the game.

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There's plenty of gunplay.
One major disappointment with this game is the inability to play as Neo, Morpheus or Trinity. The three main characters from the movie get left by the wayside. You can probably put this down to money, or lack of time for the actors to have significant input into the game. Either way, it sucks. The driving sections of the game are also rather lacking. The detail is adequate but the actual car physics requires a fair amount more work. The final annoyance is the rather long load times which are definately longer then the XBox version of the game.

Unfortunately, one of my biggest issues with this title is the one area in which it should excel - the graphics. First impressions are solid with some spectacular movie footage setting up the storyline quite well. It's not too long before the game starts, and sadly the texturing starts to look like a high res PSOne game. In general the animations are more then acceptable, perhaps even impressive. That is all but the running animation which looks rushed and, well, humorous. The camera angles are certainly one area of the game which needed more work. There are way too many locations where manual movement of the camera is required, but in the time you do so you've taken 3 bullets and been surrounded by a handful of enemies. Many times you're better off starting to hit the attack buttons before rotating the view.

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Now you're in trouble!
One of the best aspects of this title is the sound. Using the real actors from the movies as well as many of the sound effects this game sounds just like the movie, not some lame representation. The music during the fighting sequences is fast paced and will get your heart racing at just the right moments. Turn this baby up - it rocks! One area that really did disappoint was the lack of surround sound (DTS would have been most welcome) during the video clips. Considering the game is on a DVD, and that the picture retains a widescreen ratio not having this surround sound makes it a sub-DVD quality release.

Much like the latest movie I found this game to be a disappointment. The biggest issue I have is the graphics with poor texturing and camera work. The sound is cool, the animations on the characters cooler (except the running animation which needed more work). But let me say this. If this game wasn't tied into the movie(s) then it would be quitetiresome. There would be little reason to play it. But it is tied into the movies, and for that reason if you're a fan of the movies you may want to check this game out just to get more of the background story.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSPoor textures and cameras distract from brilliant animations.
SOUNDPlenty of matrix effects, music and atmosphere. Needs surround.
GAMEPLAYThe camera angles suck, and the gameplay may become repetitive.
VALUEAbout 25 hours gameplay, fans of the movie will play several times.
OVERALLEnter The Matrix should have been kept in development for a couple more months, and possibly been released with the third movie in November. It's a good game that has some flaws but fans of the movies will likely forgive them for the opportunity to do some slo-mo damage..

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